Kelsey Grammer’s “Frasier” revival is about paying respects to actor John Mahoney, who died in 2018 at age 77, and Martin Crane, the beloved character Mahoney portrayed on the original series that ran on NBC from 1993-2004.
Mahoney played a pivotal role in the success of the Seattle-based series as the humble retired police detective father to his psychiatrist sons Frasier (Grammer) and Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce).
“The influence of John himself and the character of Martin Crane was evident on everyone around him,” says Chris Harris, who created the “Frasier” reboot with Joe Cristalli. “It was a priority for Kelsey that we honor that legacy.”
The tribute begins with the new Boston bar that Frasier frequents in the revival series, called Mahoney’s Taproom, with a painted sign saying “Since 1940” (the year of Mahoney’s birth). Another tribute can be seen in Frasier’s son Freddie (Jack Cutmore Scott), a real-life Boston firefighter who is very close to Grandpa Martin.
But the tribute to Mahoney and Martin was especially prominent in Thursday’s Paramount+ premiere (the first two episodes will air on CBS on October 17 at 9:15 EST/PDT). Here’s how:
Fraser arrives in Boston after Martin’s funeral: ‘He will be missed’
Frasier’s real reason for coming to Boston is to mend ties with his son Freddy, who was raised by his mother Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), Frasier’s ex-wife. Freddie missed Martin’s last funeral. But when Frasier arrives at the Boston airport, he asks his Harvard professor friend Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst) how the funeral was.
“Emotional,” Fraser replies. “But it was a good send-off. We’ll miss him.”
Later, Fraser provided more details about the funeral (off-camera), which was all planned by the meticulous Martin. As Fraser says, it featured farewells from the police and key moments from the original series’ characters. There was a toast from Martin’s former housekeeper Daphne (later Niles’ wife, played by Jane Leeves) and “Ave Maria,” sung by regular sportscaster Bulldog (Dan Butler).
Fraser offered a final tribute representing Grammer’s thoughts on Mahoney
One of the final scenes in the premiere shows Frasier giving Freddy the flag that flies over the Washington State Capitol “in honor of Detective Martin Crane” who was also a war veteran.
“I’m going to miss him,” Freddie says.
“Me too,” Frasier replies. “He was a hell of a man, a hard man to follow.”
Filming that scene was emotional for everyone, says “Cheers” creator James Burrows, who directed many of the original Frasier episodes and the first two episodes of the remake. Burroughs says that Fraser’s words “certainly” represent Grammer’s view of Mahoney; “John was wonderful. We all miss him.”
There are several takes of the meaningful scene, including versions in which Grammer was “crying the whole time,” Crystal says.
Mahoney ended the episode by saying, “It all works out.”
The “In Loving Memory” segment at the end of the episode honors the script supervisor Gabriel JamesWho worked on both “Cheers” and “Frasier.” James died in December 2022 at the age of 88.
Actor Archie Lyndhurst, Nicholas’ son, was also recognized. Archie He died tragically In September 2020, he suffered a brain hemorrhage at the age of nineteen.
The final scene is a short clip of Mahoney as Martin, wearing his signature shirt, in front of a roaring fire. “Everything is going well,” Mahoney says with a smile.
“You can craft memories with the simplest lines,” Burroughs says of Mahoney’s final gesture. “It’s very effective.”
Crystal says they wanted to show one last look at the beloved actor in his most impressive role.
“We wanted to hear John speak,” Crystal says. “It talks about life in general, but also about Freddie and Frasier’s relationship. It’s as if everything doesn’t work out for everyone all the time, but it will work out if you keep going.”
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